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A World War 2 Trilogy

By FRED NATH (Novelist and Neurosurgeon)

Fred's Blog


Amazon Book Reviews

Posted on 30 September, 2012 at 3:21 Comments comments (17)
As a writer, I read the customer reviews on my books on Amazon regularly. It’s hard not to become obsessed by them and like any writer I am quite sensitive to criticism. Such sensitivity no doubt is from a lack ofconfidence as I’m relatively new to writing fiction. In my real job of course, I’m much more confident as you can’t do that job if you aren’t. Most reviewers are fair and looking at what they write demonstrates that it is a matter of taste and therefore subjective whether one likes a book or not. What one writes in a ‘customer review’ should however be based on knowing what you’re talking about. I get a feeling of irritation with some of the reviews though. One of my books had very good independent reviews but one customer indicates it could have been written by an 11-year-old. Oddly enough that is almost word for word what a critic said about Hemingway, to which he replied that he knew the ten-dollar words but he didn’t use them, because he used simpler older and more meaningful words. Not that I’m even in the same hemisphere as Hemingway in my writing.
Another seems to think ‘The Cyclist’ was only published because my wife is a published author. Well, no she isn’t and no it wasn’t.  Of course they are all welcome to their opinion and some of the criticism is genuinely useful. I guess my writing is abit like Marmite – some like it others hate it. Either way, ‘The Cyclist' has sold 15,000 copies and I have three books on the first page of Amazon’s ‘War’ best-seller page, so maybe more people like my stuff than hate it!
It’s all so subjective, isn’t it?

Independent Publishing

Posted on 7 September, 2012 at 12:22 Comments comments (9)
Working with a small independent press like Fingerpress might to some, seem hard work. My situation shows it isn’t. You write your story;your publisher likes it and then what? Big publishing houses get your book out there in their impersonal way and although you are assigned an editor to workwith, calls will probably remain unanswered and everyone is busy. Not so in a small press and certainly not with Fingerpress. You know who you’re dealing with and the attention you get in revision is amazing. It’s a growing and very professional organisation that has time for its authors.
To be honest, I’d rather be part of a rising new organisation than an older, bigger and dare I say it, more turgid production line. I’ve thought for a long time that big 6 churn out the same old stuff from the same old authors because they think they are assured of profit. Things are changing now with self-publication where some very new authors are making a killing. But there’s more to writing and getting published than making money – it’s about being creative and about telling a story people want to read.
What do I know about it? Well, WW2 book number 3 is about to come out in a week or two. I’ve been involved all the way through. We disagreed over the cover to some extent but when they sent me the provisional cover I was knocked out! That’s it over there. I guess you can’t judge a book by its cover but you can judge a cover by its book – if you know what I mean! :-)

Fifty Shades of Grey

Posted on 5 August, 2012 at 5:36 Comments comments (16)
An interesting book now top of all the best-seller rankings. Who would have thought it? The writing is diabolically bad. The plot is thin. The main subject of sado-masochism doesn't exactly make it a good read either. I'm amazed that so many people like this utter tosh.
But 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is a huge success. The media love it. They want to get their teeth into it and create a bit of scandal, make people talk about a book which would make Graham Greene turn in his urn!
'Oh poor gulible people, what are you doing to yourselves? bemoans a critic on Amazon. Well, I'll tell you something for free. For too long the publishing industry has been a stale, austere world, where jaded agents and publishers insist on publishing what makes them money disregarding new fresh writing. Look at the bookshelves of any major bookstore. The same old authors, churning out the same old stuff until readers are sated by series about the same old character over and over again.
Fifty shades of Tripe is a different kind of book. It doesn't pretend to be literature. It has almost no coherent plot, the main characters are laughable parodies and the things they get up to are nasty. It can only have been written for a joke and now the joke is on the indiscriminate readers and buyers. The author must be laughing all the way to the building society (no one trusts banks anymore).
The success of 'Fifty Shapes of Sex' can only be the product of the staleness of the publishing industry. By becoming more and more boring they have themselves created not only successful self-published authors (Yay!) but an insatiable beast in the form of this gargantua which 'Fifty Ways to Cause Pain' has become. They have created a flail with which to beat themselves, in an intellectual and literary sense, though not in a financial sense.
The success of 'Feisty Shades of drivel' shows you can fool all the people some of the time. Have I read it? Well, I read some of the first one and became so hacked-off, I threw it away, foil packets and all!

Accuracy with Historical Fiction

Posted on 23 February, 2012 at 3:00 Comments comments (266)
I've been to Bergerac a few times. My WW2 books were inspired by the really quite moving inscriptions on the monument in the market square. Quotes from De Gaul and others, tributes to the local partisans who died. In the event, when I wrote the books - all tied into Bergerac in some way - I cheated a bit and rearranged the geography to suit he story, imagining where I would need certain buildings to suit the events. It isn't a history lesson, nor is it a holidamaker's guide book. I suppose, I could have stuck rigidly to the real place, but chose not to.
It raises the question whether, when you write fiction, you should always be accurate in your geography. I think not. I think you need to concentrate on the story and fit circumstantial detail to it or it doesn't flow.
I've written a number of Roman adventures too. I've never been to ancient Rome  but from research can describe some of the layout from maps of the day. Does that mean that my story is untennable? I don't think so. Character is plot they say. Create realistic, strong characters with a human, flawed side to them and your plot unfolds before your very eyes. You don't find yourself constantly asking 'would he/she really do that?'. As you write, you ask yurself instead what would I have done if I were him/her.
For those readers who go to Bergerac, to Beynac and beyond, ad find they can't find the mairie where I described it, well, I'm sorry, but it's northwest of the elongated, tree-lined market square.
The other thing that is hard to be accurate about is how long it takes to trave from one place to another, by car or walking, unless you've done the trip that way. By car from Bergerac to Lyon for example.
All I can say is, if it irritates my readers, I humbly apologise. I just try to tell stories.

Free Book Downloads!

Posted on 29 August, 2011 at 6:53 Comments comments (11)
Well, I’ve finally succumbed to the idea of giving away a couple of books in pdf format for anyone interested in Roman action / adventure stories for a limited period. Why free? I hear you ask.
It’s like this, they are really good reads and page-turners, both of them and I think you will enjoy them. No point writing books that no one gets to read!
I also have an ulterior motive. The ‘AMULET I’ book is the first part of a series but the second, third and fourth books are not going to be free. If enough people like  ‘AMULET I’ there is a good reason to publish the others. Only demand will ensure they are read.
The 'JUDAS SCROLLS' is also a page-turner and if you don't like it, well, it's free to read or not read!
So what are you waiting for? If you avail yourself of this free offer, your feedback on [email protected] would be welcome - positive or negative!
Free means you can download the pdf files of the books and if you want to convert them to kindle compatible format, you can do that yourself, free with ‘Mobipocket creator’ a free software download.
Go for it! They won’t be on offer very long.

Kindle, Literary Prizes and Bookshops.

Posted on 24 August, 2011 at 7:12 Comments comments (17)
Heard the other week my book ‘Barbarian’ has beenshort-listed for the Yeovil literary prize. It’s one of 13 out of about a thousand entries. I was really quite chuffed about that. I can’t see it winning though. I’ve been trying to get it published for more than a year and several literary agents have seen it but not taken it on. I suppose I could suggest it’s pearls before swine but I suspect it isn’t that. The book industry seems to be a contracting world and people working in it are understandably cautious.
Much is written about the popularity of e-books and how they will take over from hard-copies from book shops, but I don’t believe it. I have a feeling that the lack of variety on book-shop shelves is thrusting a lot of readers towards Kindle and the e-market in general. Big publishers like their 'A' list authors who have a regular following and that seems to earn them enough money to stay afloat. Why would they invest in unknown authors who might not get them big enough sales to make the marketing process cost-effective? Maybe Kindle is so popular because of the variety therefore. My own view is, there is nothing as readable as a paper book held in one’s hand to thumb through and insert a bookmark into.
But the point? Point is, that I really don’t think bookshops will die out. There is already a way of choosing a book and having it printed in-store, so you can see the e-book of your dreams being made. Sounds like Sci-fi but it isn’t. I can predict that Kindle will always be with us but that the strength of the solid, paper book will return. Human beings have had books to look at since before Roman times – I can’t see it changing in the distant future. Like all dinosaurs, I still like to browse in my favourite patch I suppose.
You can catch the first part of the book Barbarian free on this site. If you think it’s rubbish, please let me know, but you’ll be arguingwith the judges at Yeovil if you do!

How Not to Attract an Agent

Posted on 18 April, 2011 at 12:43 Comments comments (8)
OK I’ll tell you how stupid I really am. I don’t have an agent. No big deal, I have a publisher and maybe that’s more important. I’m desperate to get an agent to represent my Roman fiction books though (there are a lot of them!). There I am, at a friend’s 60th last week.
A friend drags me off and says, ‘Fred I want you meet XX, she’s a literary agent.’
After four glasses of champs and no food, I was , I admit it, a little over-refreshed. My friend had already given the poor agent a card of mine about The Cyclist and she looked up at me and said, ‘It’s self-published, is it?’
For some reason the comment rankled. I don’t know why, but I responded so stupidly.
‘Certainly not. It’s a bona fide publisher, new and start-up but it’s better to be part of a growing venture than part of an old jaded fosil publisher.’
‘Oh. I’m a Literary Agent.’
‘Oh right.’
‘I’m So-and-so’s publisher actually.’ (A well-known writer of many Roman Historical Fiction books, published by very big publishers).
‘I always find her books never really get going. I like Cornwell when he’s writing well.’
‘I hate Cornwell.’
‘Not my thing at all.’
‘You wouldn’t like my Roman books then. They’re mainly pacy action without any purple prose.’
‘Suppose I wouldn’t. Is this a career of yours?’
‘No, I’m a full-time Neurosurgeon.’
Silence. Feeling like a flake. Looking around the party, people’s laughter reverberating in my ears. A slight flush to the cheeks and a wry smile.
‘Right, well, must go and rescue my better half.’
‘Yes. You better had.’
I thought nothing of it until next morning when, with greater clarity of thinking, I realised why I don’t have an agent.
Always engage brain before mouth.

Cheap and easy

Posted on 28 March, 2011 at 1:16 Comments comments (14)
Well, folks finally joined the e-book community.
Published a Roman adventure on Kindle! Dirt cheap but readable.
You can get the book, called 'Judas Scrolls' here:
It's a bit of a wild romp but does have some serious undercurrents.
A critique from a Scribendi editor said:
"painted a vivid picture with thoughtful characters and clever story development."
Try it!
Can't help wondering whether it's impatience or laziness which makes a writer publish his own books, but hell, why wait?